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OPL Split 1 2020 - Preview

After an Academy LCS rule change triggered an exodus of the region’s top stars, the Oceanic Pro League teams now look to pick up the pieces and prepare emerging talent to take their place as the OPL Split 1 2020 begins.

Lee "Couple Sodi Pops" Jones
Freelance Esports Writer
30th Jan, 2020·☕️ 4 min read
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After an Academy LCS rule change triggered an exodus of the region’s top stars, the Oceanic Pro League teams now look to pick up the pieces and prepare emerging talent to take their place as the OPL Split 1 2020 begins.

Competition Information

Similarly to seasons past, the franchised league will feature eight teams competing over a regular season and playoffs. Following the removal of Riot subsidies, 2019 Split 1 champions Bombers’ parent company Essendon Bombers made the unfortunate decision to remove the side from the league, with their spot going to Pentanet.GG to fill out the competition.

The regular season begins on Friday 31st January and will be played over ten weeks in a triple round-robin, meaning each team will play each other three times. Each week will see all teams play a match on Friday and Saturday. Of the eight teams, the top five from the regular season will advance to the playoffs.

This season’s playoffs features an updated format, adding a loser bracket (as has been done this split in a number of Riot’s regions) while keeping the essence of the previous gauntlet style and traditional best-of-five series throughout.

OPL playoffs

To begin, the 2nd and 3rd seeds will face off against each other in the winner’s bracket, with the victor moving on to face the 1st seed. The winner of this series will then proceed to the final. Kicking off the lower bracket is a series between the 4th and 5th seeds, the winner of which will face the loser of the 2nd vs 3rd series. This series’ champion will then face the final team to have dropped from the winner’s bracket, in a series which will decide the last team to reach the grand final.

OPL 1

The winner of the grand final, the Split 1 champion, will earn qualification to the first international event of the year, the Mid-Season Invitational. MSI will see the Spring champions from each region converge to crown the World’s best team at the mid point of the season, and the eventual OPL champion will look to improve on poor Oceanic showings at international tournaments in seasons past.

The Current Season

With much of the region’s best performers leaving for North America and Europe, the OPL crown is more up for grabs than ever and a host of sides will look to knock MAMMOTH off of the top spot. A heavy reshuffle of players has ensued, with all sides sporting vastly different lineups than those seen in 2019.

OPL odds

With the action starting imminently, two teams currently sit at the top of favourites pile; Legacy Esports and ORDER.

The former have added two Koreans to their ranks in the shape of top laner Topoon (who was part of the MAMMOTH side that won Split 2 2019), as well as mid laner EMENES (who has spent time on both Gen.G and KingZone Dragon X without making an appearance). Another of MAMMOTH’s winning side has also made their way to Legacy, jungler Babip, while Raes and Isles have also joined from Chiefs and Avant Gaming respectively.

As Legacy Esports picked up two of MAMMOTH’s 2019 roster, ORDER took it a step further in bringing in three members of Chiefs Esports Club’s 2019 side as they have taken top laner Swip3rR, jungler Only and support Eyla. ADC rare7 (formerly Dreams) keeps his place on the roster and mid laner Haeri completes the starting lineup after a switch from Gravitas.

Expected to fill the middle of the pack are newcomers Pentanet.GG, Chiefs and Dire Wolves, while Avant Gaming are outsiders for a playoff place. Expected to finish at the foot of the league are Gravitas and MAMMOTH, a disappointing fall from grace for the latter.

Sodi Pops’ Pick - ORDER to win Split 1 (@ 2.50)

Though Legacy Esports are currently considered favourites on paper, for me the variable of an imported Korean mid laner opens up huge room for synergy issues. Though likely a more than qualified mechanical player (as is anyone who can climb the Korean Challenger ladder), his role relies heavily on the ability to coordinate with teammates to successfully set up roams and ganks. While he may find it comfortable to gel with fellow Korean top laner Topoon, he will need to hit it off with the remaining members of the team for the transition to go well.

OPL caster

On the other hand, ORDER’s all Australian squad should find synergy much easier to come by, especially considering three of the five spent last season on the same Chiefs roster. As well as this, General Manager and Riot caster Spawn has now stepped in as head coach for Split 1 and his expertise should help the side to earn their first Oceanic Pro League title.

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